I think I speak for our whole team of three when I say that we had an incredible time at the Tough Mudder yesterday.
None of us slept well the night before—we’d either had sick kids or kids in our beds, and I think we’d all had various nervous reactions. We all got started late, but luckily we didn’t have far to go. We hit stop-and-go traffic about halfway, so we cheered for the folks on the parts of the course we could see. Most of them in the early waves looked like serious athletes, although we did see Captain Jack Sparrow in full gear rockin’ it!
We parked the car, grabbed what we were taking, and headed off to register. Halfway to the gates, one of us said, “Do we know where we parked the car?” None of us really did, but that was a question for another time. We made it through registration in time to hear the nine o’clock wave called. We took a bathroom break, pinned on our bibs, and stowed our stuff, then headed for the start.
We had to climb our first wall to get there. Then, on the other side, they kept telling you to move forward and make room. I couldn't help thinking about the stories my Latin teacher from Hungary told about French POW camp, but that’s a post for another day…. The MC did a great job hyping everyone up, and I was so glad to be able to acknowledge the service members starting with us. After the Star-Spangled Banner, we started!
From the beginning, people were fun and friendly and helpful. Most marathoners and military folks passed us and we passed a lot of folks, too, but we more or less got to recognize the folks traveling our speed as we traded jokes with them. We saw people in costume, people in huge teams, and Marines. We saw a team running in memory of a KIA. We saw people of all ages. There were more men than women by a little, but not by a huge amount.
I’ve written all the gory details in my Hardcore Play-By-Play, which will be the kind of hidden track to this post, but overall I feel like we trained for it and we did it. We did the course in 3 hours and 13 minutes. And it felt great!
When we all burst out of that last electric-shock obstacle and hugged each other, I cried. I truly was different, but not because I’d done something so monumentally hard that day. Because that day measured all the monumentally hard things that I’d put in to make that day happen. And because the event changed my view of myself in a totally unexpected way.
I have to give so much credit to my team—both crazy “Donkey” (I say it with love) Donna for coming up with the idea, then being our spirit and sense of fun, and Starry, for putting together the workouts that made this insane event almost easy. If you want to get in shape, her website is here. I told her this on the course and I meant it: I am sorry for every one of the times she told us what exercise we were doing next and I gave her That Look.
Without them, I never would have had this fantastic and life-changing feeling that I’m not living in a defective body. If I train, I can succeed as well as anyone else. I am the kind of person who can do a Tough Mudder and take it in stride. I didn’t have to leave it all on the course, because I had some left—thanks to my training, my team, and my family.
We practically floated the last few yards, collecting our headbands, power bars, t-shirts, and beer, but my sweet husband (who promised to wait for me at the finish line with my two dollars, a la Better Off Dead) was nowhere to be found. So, after our moment of glorious sitting down, I really wanted to call him. We decided to tackle Obstacle Number 25—Find the Freakin’ Car.
First we had to stand up, and some joints were creaking by then. We loosened up a bit on the hike to parking, and the next part of the obstacle involved crossing a teeny-tiny ditch to the cars. Some twenty-something Mudders were standing on the other side. All three of us crossed the ditch and simultaneously groaned, “My knees….” One twenty-something replied, “We feel ya.” I felt better about creaking then--we could blame that on the course and not our age!
We wandered like IDIOTS through cars, hitting the panic button, running to a beeping horn once only to find that it was someone else’s car. Then it hit us. We should ask the people leaving when they arrived. When we found people who got there at the same time we did, our car would be there. Duh! After that, we found the car pretty quickly.
We got a great “muddy” picture (and if we look too clean, it’s because we all took a bath on the monkey bars—see the Play-By-Play) then started stripping off our shoes, checking our phones, and laying out towels to sit on in the car.
I texted Big A. and found out that they had been stuck in traffic and only made it as far as Donna’s house, so I told them to pull in there and we’d meet them. [This was all due to traffic from the Tough Mudder totally messing up Sarasota for two days. If you want to read all the gripes, Google Tough Mudder Sarasota—the news media were all over it.]
Anyway, we got to Donna’s and talked a bit in the driveway. I glanced over to our minivan and saw S. get out, wearing a new t-shirt and holding MY SISTER by the hand. My thoughts fled and I sprinted (yes, that’s how much I love her; after 11.2 miles and 24 obstacles, I sprinted) down the driveway and hugged her before I realized that I was…muddy. But I hadn't seen her since June, 2011, so...
S.’s adorable t-shirt read, “I’m proud of my Tough Mudder mother!” After laughter, tears, introductions, and chatter all around, Little A. had found some mud to get into, too, and it was time to hit the showers.
At home, I found out Big A. had designed me a t-shirt, too, and my sister was here for five days and Wow! Life was good.
I do have a couple of bruises, and my right ankle did hurt last night, but overall I feel fine. Honestly, my joints ache, but my muscles are good. So I’m an old person with good training, I think. Mostly, I’m a different person than I thought I was. I’m a Tough Mudder…and I had fun figuring that out.